INVESTMENT THAT CHANGES LIVES
Reinvestment in Neglected Communities
The Westcliff estate in Scunthorpe has a proud past and a rich history. It is also one of the most deprived in the country and has been dogged with negative headlines and a reputation for crime, disorder and general neglect. Unemployment is high and aspirations are often low.
But for those who live there, it is also a place where people look out for each other and have a strong sense of place – a community.
For years, the estate lacked investment. Shops became empty and the precinct, once the thriving heart of the community, became a no-go area. Residents could be forgiven for thinking that nobody cared.
But in 2014, Ongo showed it cared by announcing a £9 million plan to invest in Westcliff and give back a place that residents can be proud of – and not just by building new homes and improving environments.
Forty-one homes, some of which are specially adapted for people with disabilities, and five shops are being built around a central community space called The Arc.
The Arc brings people together socially, and for training, development, advice and support, with a vibrant cafe, training rooms, youth and enterprise zones and a children’s nursery, helping parents with childcare so they can take advantage of training and employment opportunities.
Ongo’s employment support team, plus housing and support staff and other community partners will work from The Arc, providing essential daily contact on the doorstep of people who need it. An Ongo project called Raising Aspirations, which targets young people with positive influences and mentors, will also have a base at The Arc.
Pete Stones, Director of Regeneration, said the motivation for the development was to not just provide the infrastructure, but also the services and support, people need to make changes in their lives.
“Building homes, shops and even The Arc is the easy part – changing lives takes a much greater long-term commitment and that is the pledge we have made to the people of Westcliff,” said Pete.
“People need modern, safe, efficient, quality homes and local facilities. But they also need opportunities and aspiration. Making lasting change in a community plagued with negative perceptions takes time, patience and dogged determination. Luckily our staff have just that and we won’t stop until we make a difference, even if it is one person at a time, because we care.”
Dedicated Estate Coordinate Fran Rhodes added: “I love watching peoples’ stories evolve. Just because people live in social housing, it doesn’t mean they can’t have a great career and really fulfilling life. Part of my job is to help people make that happen.
We provide homes, which are the bedrock of anyone’s life, but we also give people opportunities to improve their own lives. Watching somebody flourish through training and go onto a career is so exciting.”
Ongo prides itself on the success of its employment support work to date. In 2017/18, 807 people accessed employment support, with 147 going on to secure sustainable jobs. Life and work skills training was delivered to 458 people and 87 young people accessed one to one mentoring through the Raising Aspirations project, with another 92 attending pre-apprenticeship courses.